Trains run an hour late as Prasa employees stage impromptu protest

27 June 2019 - 13:57 By SIPOKAZI FOKAZI
Commuters were left stranded in Cape Town following two train incidents - a protest and the death of a passenger at one of the stations.
Commuters were left stranded in Cape Town following two train incidents - a protest and the death of a passenger at one of the stations.
Image: Gallo Images/Rapport/Roger Sedres

An impromptu protest by employees of rail company Prasa resulted in major train delays in Cape Town on Thursday – leaving many early peak-hour commuters stranded.

In a statement, Metrorail Western Cape apologised "unreservedly for trains coming to a halt across the region this morning". The protests resulted in trains being delayed for about an hour.

"The delays are attributed to two incidents. First, a small group of employees elected to disregard Prasa procedures to raise their concerns. Regional management immediately addressed the issue and employees resumed work thereafter," read the statement.

Metrorail said the second incident was the death of a pedestrian, which was reported at 8.25am outside Elsies River Station.

Trains were re-directed on to an alternative line resulting in platform changes between Tygerberg and Woltemade stations. Emergency services responded and the affected lines were expected to re-open as soon as investigations by police, who were still on site, were completed.

The latest delays come just a day after transport minister Fikile Mbalula called for a war room to be established that would tackle train delays, crime and vandalism, among other things. He also demanded to be constantly briefed on employee grievances.

Speaking during his train ride between Langa and Khayelitsha on Wednesday, Mbalula said he wanted daily reports in order to help get Prasa back on track.

"Trains must work and be on time, passengers must be respected by Prasa and communicated with frequently. There must be urgency in the implementation of the turnaround strategy. As minister, I’ll need daily and weekly reports on issues of workers’ grievances and plans to get Prasa back on track," he said.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula chats to commuters on a Metrorail train from Khayelitsha to Langa in Cape Town that departed an hour late and never reached its destination. The train's seats had been ripped out, most of the windows had been removed and there was graffiti all over the carriage.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula chats to commuters on a Metrorail train from Khayelitsha to Langa in Cape Town that departed an hour late and never reached its destination. The train's seats had been ripped out, most of the windows had been removed and there was graffiti all over the carriage.
Image: Dan Meyer

Prasa regional manager Richard Walker expressed his concern and regret about the latest delays and urged commuters and pedestrians to use underpasses or overhead bridges to cross railway lines "to avoid accidents like these".  

"Due to these incidents, delays of more than 60 minutes were experienced and some trains had to be cancelled to create capacity on the network," he said.

Walker stated that while employees had every right to raise issues of concern, doing so unprocedurally "impacted unnecessary and unfairly on commuters who relied in good faith on trains to get them to work".

"We will deal with the matter through our own internal processes."

He said that the situation would correct itself during the course of the day and that a normal afternoon peak service was envisaged.


 

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